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Thread: Facing financial difficulties - thinking of Permitted Work despite upcoming WCA

  1. #1

    Facing financial difficulties - thinking of Permitted Work despite upcoming WCA

    I have been on ESA for several years. I was briefly in the Support Group before being placed in the WRAG, where I have been ever since. I receive the current base ESA rate for my living costs and on top of this I get additional money towards my housing costs. The only other benefit I receive is Council Tax Reduction. I live alone and I am leasehold home owner. The housing costs I get go towards my annual service charge bill and a separate “major works” bill that I received this year for external repairs done to my block over the past few years. I am also waiting to hear from the DWP in regard to getting help with a second major works bill I have received.

    Currently, the annual amount of benefit money I receive in total roughly falls within the Income Tax personal allowance threshold. But should I be granted help for the second major works bill I received, my total annual benefits income would be over the Income Tax threshold. Despite this additional help with my housing costs, I am still struggling financially. I was able to just about manage up until now because of the savings I had. Unfortunately, this has gone down significantly in the last two months because of some unexpected breakdowns within my home.

    This has all only increased the financial and mental pressure on me as I no longer have the slight extra breathing room that helped me to just about manage. The management company who manages my block recently informed me that because the DWP are fully paying for the housing costs, I am not entitled to spread the payments for the works over three years. They basically want the money in 12 monthly instalments - as soon as it comes into my account.

    I have no doubt once my savings run out I will be forced to use the money designated for my housing costs to cover my daily living costs. I have tried to explain this to the management company but they are unsympathetic – they just want their money and have denied me the option for a long-term payment plan. Upon hearing that I was no longer allowed to spread the payments, I felt so suicidal that I was forced to call the Samaritans.

    I don’t want to end up in a situation where I am relying on the housing costs money to pay for food and utility bills. It’s clear that I need to increase my income to stay afloat. I have never worked before nor done any voluntary work while on ESA as I am afraid of losing my benefits entirely. However I am now faced with the terrifying prospect of losing my only home. Therefore, I have been recently thinking about doing some paid Permitted Work to earn some extra cash to help me.

    The problem is I don’t know whether this will make things better or worse for me. This is primarily because I have a WCA coming up (I am currently filling in the form). My mental health has worsened and I developed some other physical problems earlier this year. Despite this I feel as if I have no choice but to find some sort of paid work to help improve my financial situation. But I am worried that telling my advisor, whom I will see later this week, that I am thinking of doing some form of paid Permitted Work will affect my assessment, resulting in the loss of my benefit.

    I am also concerned about how doing some paid work will affect my benefits and tax liability. I have never worked so I don’t have a clue about how income tax works. I came across some Youreable threads via Google today and from what I read, my understanding that earnings from Permitted Work is taxable, ESA is taxable (I previously thought it wasn’t), and I could lose my Council Tax reduction.

    I really don’t know what do or where to turn for advice. So I thought I would ask here. The questions I have can be found below.



    1. I’m thinking of doing some paid Permitted Work for the first time, but I have a WCA assessment coming up. Should I mention this to my advisor or should I keep quiet and wait until the assessment has passed and a decision has been made? I don’t want to make things worse by potentially losing all my benefits including the housing costs help, but I could really do with the extra money.

    2. Will doing paid Permitted Work (earning the maximum I can without affecting my ESA) make me liable for Income Tax as the total amount I receive in ESA is close to/goes above the 12,500 limit? I haven’t a clue about how Income Tax works. I have always presumed that ESA and welfare benefits in general aren’t taxable.

    3. Will doing paid Permitted Work affect my Council Tax reduction? I receive the reduction plus the 25% single-person discount.

    4. In the several years I have been on ESA, I have never been on the Work Programme or sent on any training courses. I learned earlier today browsing this forum via Google that the Work Programme has been scrapped. My advisor has recently made comments along the lines of “you can’t stay on benefits and do nothing”. What kind of compulsory things should I expect to do as part of being an ESA WRAG claimant in 2019? Will I be, for example, be sent far away for training courses?

    Any advice or words of wisdom would be much appreciated.

    Thank you
    Last edited by Retrofuture; 10-28-2019 at 07:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    In the order of your questions:

    1. If you are not doing any work then don't mention any work on the ESA50 or to the assessor, because you are not doing any.
    2. ESA WRAG if the Wrag component is included is £5,311.80 a year, (or £3,801.20 if you dont get money for WRAG), nowhere near the personal Tax Allowance.
      It is only Contribution Based ESA that is taxable, Income Related ESA is non-taxable.
      I'm not sure just what you housing costs are as an owner occupier or how they are being calculated and paid by the DWP, that is not a usual arrangement.
      It sounds like this may be SMI (Support for Mortgage Interest)? which can also be payable for repair costs in a situation like yours. That is a loan from the DWP and is not Taxable Income, but it will eventually have to be paid back to the DWP.
    3. Earnings from Permitted Work should not affect any other benefits.
    4. The Work Programme has not accepted new entrants for a couple of years, the 'Work and Health Programme' that replaced it is voluntary for ESA so they can't make you do it.
      Your advisor is wrong or exagerating, you are expected to do 'work preparation' things like write/have an up to date CV, look at what jobs you may be able to do in future, etc., but it's not much.
      The Jobcentres don't have any courses that they can force you to do at the moment, but if you can show you are doing a little bit of something, as simple as saying you help an eldery neighbour with shopping or you are keeping an eye on local jobs that you might be able to do, then they can tick their boxes to say you are doing something and it keeps them happy.


    You are aware of the Permitted Work Limits?
    A maximum of 16 hours a week, or a maximim of £131.50 a week (after deductions).
    If you exceed either of those limits then your ESA will not be paid for that week, if you regularly exceed either of those limits then you ESA will be stopped altogether.
    I don't know everything. - But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.

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  3. #3
    I believe that some housing costs are paid through the DWP, such as service charges where there is no need for Support for Mortgage Interest because the OP does not have a mortgage.

    https://assets.publishing.service.go...53/dmgch44.pdf

    F2081

    I agree with Nukecad about not saying anything about Permitted work since you haven't started it. (It is up to 16 hrs, by the way)

    Plus I am wondering if you are eligible for PIP (Personal Independence Payment). Have you looked at the descriptors to see if you might meet them? Receiving the daily living component of PIP would give you extra money and entitle you to the Severe Disability Premium with your ESA. Worth looking in to.

    If you have exhausted every other avenue is downsizing an option?
    I try my best

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by nukecad View Post
    In the order of your questions:

    1. If you are not doing any work then don't mention any work on the ESA50 or to the assessor, because you are not doing any.
    2. ESA WRAG if the Wrag component is included is £5,311.80 a year, (or £3,801.20 if you dont get money for WRAG), nowhere near the personal Tax Allowance.
      It is only Contribution Based ESA that is taxable, Income Related ESA is non-taxable.
      I'm not sure just what you housing costs are as an owner occupier or how they are being calculated and paid by the DWP, that is not a usual arrangement.
      It sounds like this may be SMI (Support for Mortgage Interest)? which can also be payable for repair costs in a situation like yours. That is a loan from the DWP and is not Taxable Income, but it will eventually have to be paid back to the DWP.
    3. Earnings from Permitted Work should not affect any other benefits.
    4. The Work Programme has not accepted new entrants for a couple of years, the 'Work and Health Programme' that replaced it is voluntary for ESA so they can't make you do it.
      Your advisor is wrong or exagerating, you are expected to do 'work preparation' things like write/have an up to date CV, look at what jobs you may be able to do in future, etc., but it's not much.
      The Jobcentres don't have any courses that they can force you to do at the moment, but if you can show you are doing a little bit of something, as simple as saying you help an eldery neighbour with shopping or you are keeping an eye on local jobs that you might be able to do, then they can tick their boxes to say you are doing something and it keeps them happy.
    Thanks for the reply and suggestions, nukecad.

    1. I am not doing any work at all at the moment, so in regard to the ESA50 form and the assessor there should be no problems. The thing is I am thinking of it as I see it as the only way to improve my financial situation. I have got a meeting with my advisor later this week and was just wondering whether it’s a good idea to even mention to my advisor that I am thinking of finding some paid permitted work. I mean, especially when I am about to send off the ESA50, would it even be wise to bring up the idea of permitted work with my ESA advisor? I am worried that the mere sign of me considering some form of work will influence the WCA outcome.

    2. Regarding Income Tax from what you’ve written, it seems that none of the money I receive in ESA, whether it’s money for my daily living costs or money for housing costs, is taxable despite the combined total amount potentially going over the personal allowance limit. I have always received Income-Related ESA. If I were just getting the ESA WRAG my annual income would be in the region of £5k, but I am also getting money towards my housing costs spread out over the year, which pushes the total amount to over £10k. But as I am receiving Income-Related ESA, it appears that none of this is taxable. Have I understood this correctly?

    3. I am an owner-occupier. I have no mortgage. The DWP pays for some service charges and essential repairs under something called “housing costs”. I am leaseholder living in a block managed by my local council. Over the past few years, the council has carried out repairs to the external building and each leaseholder is expected to contribute to the costs of the works. I have recently been billed for several “major works” programmes totalling thousands of pounds. The council has advised me to contact the DWP for financial support, which it has provided for one bill so far – I am still awaiting the outcome for the second one and the works for the third repairs programme hasn’t even begun. My personal financial situation continues to decline, which is why I was thinking about doing some permitted work.

    4. I was aware that PW had earning and hours limits, but up until now I thought the maximum you could earn was £120.
    If I start some permitted work, is it absolutely necessary to tell the DWP if I stay within the earnings and hours rules? Would I also have to contact HMRC? Or would the DWP do that via the PW1 form? Is it a really bad idea to start doing permitted work before telling the DWP? At the moment, I really want to find a way to earn some extra money – the extra £131.50 per week from doing permitted work would help – but it seems more trouble than it’s worth. I don’t want to end up losing all my benefits because I’ve suddenly been declared “fully fit” by the WCA DM. It’s frustrating to put it mildly.

    5. I see. So the Work Programme in its original incarnation has really gone. That’s come as a surprise to me. I will keep your comments about the “work preparation” stuff in mind. I have recently been seeing a guidance advisor at a local council-run employment hub. I only see them every few weeks and have got help with building my CV. I have also been keeping an eye on the local jobs they advertise as I have come to the conclusion that I have no chance at getting jobs further into the city. Do you think these things would be sufficient to show that I am doing “something” and would it be ok to mention these things to my JC advisor?

    Quote Originally Posted by pmlindyloo View Post
    I believe that some housing costs are paid through the DWP, such as service charges where there is no need for Support for Mortgage Interest because the OP does not have a mortgage.

    https://assets.publishing.service.go...53/dmgch44.pdf

    F2081

    I agree with Nukecad about not saying anything about Permitted work since you haven't started it. (It is up to 16 hrs, by the way)

    Plus I am wondering if you are eligible for PIP (Personal Independence Payment). Have you looked at the descriptors to see if you might meet them? Receiving the daily living component of PIP would give you extra money and entitle you to the Severe Disability Premium with your ESA. Worth looking in to.

    If you have exhausted every other avenue is downsizing an option?
    Thanks for your thoughts, pmlindyloo.

    You’re right that’s exactly what is happening. I don’t have a mortgage. The costs of my major works repairs and annual service charges are paid to me directly on top of my basic ESA income every week. This is paid over a period of 52 weeks.

    I doubt I am eligible for PIP. My problems are primarily mental health-based with emerging physical problems and it was a struggle to even maintain my ESA claim.
    I have since adopted a sort of “don’t rock the boat” attitude.

    I have thought about downsizing. I don’t live in a very big place (it’s a 2 bed flat), but moving is such a big thing and it has its own associated costs and risks.
    Moving is also more daunting for me because I no longer have any family in the UK, so I would be doing it entirely by myself. I am considering it, though.
    Last edited by Retrofuture; 10-29-2019 at 01:28 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    You can safely mention it to your work coach without it affecting any WCA, your coach has no influence whatsoever in the WCA and the WCA won't know what you have said to the coach.
    If fact it's a good idea to mention it to your coach, it shows you are thinking about work.

    I'm not sure about the amount for the housing but it's propably not taxable.
    But even if it is when you take off the £5K non-taxable IR ESA then it would not be near your Personal Tax Allowance anyway.

    You'll have to wait for the DWP to get back to you about the bill(s).

    The PW earnings limit is stated as 16x National Minimum Wage, so it goes up as the minimum wage goes up.
    In the legisaltion (the law) it's actually called 'Exempt Work' and there is no requirement to get the DWPs 'Permission' to do it as long as it's within the limits.
    However if you don't tell them by means of a PW1 then it may cause problems later when they find out you have been working and they ask you about it.
    (They will find out, or some busybody will tell them).
    So while you can do wrork without the DWPs 'permission' it's best to get in a PW1 to say what hours you are working, you can do it after you have started and you only have to do it once unless your hours or pay changes.
    As long as the work you do does not contradict what you say about your limitations there should be no problem at WCA, you don't even have to mention work as such.
    eg. If you say you cant walk far then get a job delivering leaflets they'll start to wonder about what you say, but if you are sat at a desk then it's no problem.

    Yes, those are exactly what they mean by 'Work Related Activities', tell your Jobcentre work coach about them.
    As I say they generally lack any courses or programmes that they can send you on, but some areas do have a few that are usually voluntary.

    I would take another look at PIP, and I'd make an appointment with a local benefits advisor to discuss your situation generally (and maybe get help claiming PIP).
    You can find local advisors by putting your postcode in here: https://advicelocal.uk/find-an-adviser
    Last edited by nukecad; 10-29-2019 at 05:33 PM.
    I don't know everything. - But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.

    Migration from ESA to Universal Credit- Click here for information.

  6. #6
    Thanks for the further explanation, nukecad.

    It’s reassuring to know that I will be able to mention that I am thinking of doing some PW to my Work Coach – although I must admit that I am still nervous about doing this as it may influence her attitude towards me. As advised, I will also mention how I have engaged with the council’s employment hub to gain CV help and awareness of local opportunities.

    As you said, it’s good to show them I am doing “something”. The only proof I have of my attendance at the employment hub is my occasional email exchanges with them. Do Work Coaches normally ask for proof in regard to Work Related Activities that claimants pursue by themselves?

    If I am granted help for the second bill, the total income for all my housing costs (both major works bills and my usual annual service charge bill) would roughly come up to £6900, so ,yes, you are right it would not be anywhere near the Income Tax personal allowance threshold on its own.
    I am thinking of contacting the DWP just to confirm whether the housing costs element is taxable.

    Ah, I forgot the minimum wage has gone up. So that explains why the PW allowance is now £131.50. It sounds as if I should go through the correct procedure and declare any via the PW1 form just to be safe.

    I am struggling to find any sort of Permitted Work that would be suitable for me. Obviously there are the usual jobs on major jobsites that are below 15 hours, but these tend to be retail and supermarket jobs, which wouldn’t suit someone with my problems (doing such jobs would also contradict what I said about my limitations). In my view, it’s also unlikely these employers would be willing to take someone with “problems”.

    I also think the pay for these jobs would push me above the allowed limit. I recently found a local leafleting job that would fall within the PW limits, but again it’s not something I am comfortable with doing and would likely aggravate my problems.

    I was just wondering if you knew of any websites or organisations that are dedicated to helping people on ESA find PW jobs where, perhaps, the employers are a bit more sympathetic towards people with health limitations.

    Regarding PIP, I looked at the descriptors earlier today and felt none of them applied to me. PIP seems to be for people who are severely physically disabled and are unable to do everyday tasks without assistance and supervision. As my condition is primarily mental health based I doubt I would even be eligible for anything.
    There is also a part of me that is afraid of attempting to ask for more if you know what I mean.
    But I do thank you for the link. At least now I am aware of local support organisations in my area.

  7. #7
    hi
    I would just like to say that I currently receive PiP on Mental health grounds

    if you are a member of the 'benefitsandwork' forum, they have very in depth booklets that help explain which limitations qualify

    eg. depression - lack of motivation - not able to make decisions re. washing/dressing/food

    and I think there are other websites that can assist you too
    but I have only used the one above, and this one

  8. #8
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    As walker rightly says MH will qualify you for PIP, don't simply dismiss the idea.
    (Your MH may be blocking you from seeing it).

    Please do make an appointment with a local advice organisation.
    I don't know everything. - But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.

    Migration from ESA to Universal Credit- Click here for information.

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